Theodore Roosevelt's Impact On The Environment

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Under President Theodore Roosevelt at the turn of the century the role of the United States Federal Government in Environmental policy began to change. As President, Roosevelt’s contributions to American Conservation, such as the creation of numerous national parks, monuments, and forests, are historically significant. However, these natural resources were not managed by a centralized organization until 1916. Considered by naturalist John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, as the equivalent to the neighboring Yosemite Valley, the lesser known Hetch Hetchy Valley is seldom called by its name. More commonly, citizens of San Francisco refer to it as “the reservoir” which it became after the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in 1923. ,…show more content…
Through conversations with people of affluence, such as Theodore Roosevelt, and printed appeals in both local and national newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, Muir led his charge. In an Atlantic Monthly article, Muir criticized utilitarian environmental policies which suggested that the economic value of Hetch Hetchy to the region justified its destruction. Likewise, in a Sierra Club bulletin from 1908, Muir wrote, “In these ravaging money-mad days monopolizing San Francisco capitalists are now doing their best to destroy the Yosemite Park.” A later section of the piece is laden with religious imagery comparing the sin of capitalistic interest in building the reservoir to the sin which banished mankind from the Garden of Eden. According to Conservationist historian Douglas Strong, Muir’s persuasive techniques made him the nation’s most acclaimed spokesmen for preservation. Robert Righter, the author of The Battle over Hetch Hetchy, suggests that of some the modern methods used to sway public opinion have their origins in the persuasion tactics Muir used during the Hetch Hetchy protest. In addition to the contemporary reach of Muir’s rhetoric, Righter also implicates the effects of Muir’s resounding words and the impact they had on Environmentalist, David Brower who…show more content…
In newspapers, Muir encouraged working people to write letters to their Senators and to Franklin Lane, the Secretary of the Interior. Letters from women’s clubs, students, local conservation groups as well as ordinary citizens arrived in Washington, DC from around the country. Historian Douglas Strong claims that some residents of San Francisco, who would have benefited from the construction of the dam, were motivated by Muir’s campaign to oppose the damming of Hetch Hetchy calling it an “attempt to deprive the many of their rights for the advantage of a few” According to Robert Righter, the amount of letters sent was seen as significant since in November 1913, several Senators, including Frank Mondell and Reed Smoot, reported receiving upwards of five thousand letters opposing the proposed Raker Act during a congressional meeting. Christine Oravec concludes that Muir’s campaign in particular was responsible for the public outpouring of support for National Parks and culturally shaped the future of American
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